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AIT President outlines plan in alumni meeting

AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai has outlined a multipronged plan for strengthening the Institute. In a meeting with delegates from the AIT Alumni Association (Thailand) on 30 September 2014, Prof. Worsak highlighted forward-looking plans including modernization of the library, an external academic audit, and an external audit of the Institute’s financial control and governance system.

AIT President outlines plan in alumni meeting

Prof. Worsak Kanok Nukulchai (left) being greeted by AITAA (Thailand).

The delegation of AIT Alumni Association Thailand Chapter (AITAA-Thailand), was led by its Vice President Mr. Supachai Rakpanitmanee , Managing Director Panya Consultants Co., Ltd. Speaking on behalf of Thai alumni, Mr. Supachai offered his sincere congratulations and expressed his extreme delight at the appointment of Prof. Worsak. He mentioned that their visit coincided with the appointment of Mr. Chusak Gaywee, President of AITAA-Thailand, as the new Director General of Thailand's Department of Highways. Mr. Chusak, was scheduled to attend the meeting, but had sent his apologies due to an urgent matter arising out of his new responsibility.

Prof. Worsak expressed his appreciation for the continued support of AITAA (Thailand), and stated that his priority during the preceding year as Interim President had been to solve the financial crisis, and to normalize the relationship with the Royal Thai Government.

“Now that the above two crucial goals seem to have been achieved, the next step is to conduct a 'health check' to understand the weakness in the system, in order to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated,” Prof. Worsak said. The Institute has engaged an external consultant to conduct a complete audit of AIT’s financial and administrative system. This clinical exercise will take six months, and the results can be followed by a major restructuring of the Administration, President Worsak remarked.

Prof. Worsak also spoke about the ranking of AIT’s academic programs. He reiterated that AIT was not included in major world ranking systems since it is not a full-fledged university, and as it is not affiliated with any particular country. To ensure better communication with the public regarding AIT’s stature and position in postgraduate education, AIT has accepted the invitation of QS Stars, headquartered in London, a global enterprise affiliated with the QS ranking system, who will conduct an academic audit of AIT.
“It is a hard fact that the flood of October 2011 severely hurt AIT, damaging the ground level offices, laboratories, library and facilities,” Prof. Worsak told members of the visiting delegation. He confirmed that most of damage caused by the flood on the ground floors of all academic buildings had been repaired and restored, and some had even been upgraded.
Many laboratories, such as the civil engineering lab became fully operational within a few months after the flood waters receded. However, the President admitted that existing equipments in some of the laboratories had become outdated even prior to the flood, particularly due to recent advances in digital and sensor technologies. The termination of the Japanese equipment grant two decades ago also adversely affected AIT. The AIT President assured that his administration will consider this issue a priority, once the finance situation improves in a few years.

Prof. Worsak also shared his thoughts and plans on the renovation and modernization of the AIT Library. The Library ground floor was completely damaged during the flood, and President Worsak informed the delegates that the library was allocated 10 million Baht for repair of the damaged ground floor. This could have been undertaken if AIT wanted to maintain the library in the same form and format. However, with changing times, the way faculty, researchers and students access, process, and use information is totally different from 40 years ago when the AIT library was designed and built.

The President pointed out that modern libraries are no longer a place to merely consult books; but they are also meeting places, media centers, digital repositories, and they are a wonder of modern architecture and design. Thus, it is a good opportunity for AIT to modernize its library, add cutting-edge services and technology, and create spaces for students to study and meet.

The President presented to the delegates the Modernization Plan of the AIT Library, which is expected to cost 40 million Baht inclusive of furniture and equipment. In the new design, all books, print materials, theses and special collections will be shelved on the upper floor. The ground floor will become an open learning space, equipped with modern on-line workstations, multimedia stations, a teleconference studio, one modern class room for MOOC, and 15 group discussion rooms. It will also house a modern lounge, exhibition area, and designated meeting rooms for alumni and visitors. Faculty and students will be able to enjoy available resources through vast online repositories containing e-books, subscriptions to online databases, online journals, and open-access publications.

The President informed the delegates that a “Support AIT Library Modernization Campaign” will be kicked off to engage alumni and friends in this process. He noted that prior to the launch of this campaign, a soft campaign has already resulted in the AITAA Myanmar and China Chapters, the KMUTT‘s AIT Club, and several individuals coming forward with cash contributions in order to be a part of this modern library. The President encouraged the AITAA Thailand Chapter to join force in this effort.

Mr. Supachai, who graduated from AIT in Water Resources Engineering in 1993, was accompanied by Mr. Anuthep Chaovanalikit (SEC’ 82), Executive Director of Panya Consultants Co., Ltd.; Dr. Suthi Panpanit (ETM’ 2001), Director, Innovation Park Project and Vice President, PTT Research and Technology Institute, PTT Public Company Limited; and Dr. Danai Ruengsorn (TE’ 97 & 2002), Director of Bangkok Highway District, Department of Highways. Dr. Surachet Pravinvongvuth (IPM’ 2001) of Transportation Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology (SET), AIT; Dr. Mongkol Mongkol Ekpanyapong (CS’ 2000) of Microelectronics and Embedded Systems, SET, AIT; Dr. Thammarat Koottatep (EE ’93 &WWE’ 99) of Environmental Engineering and Management (EEM), School of Environment, Resources and Development, AIT; Dr. Atitaya Panuvatvanich (ETTM’ 2003 & EEM’ 2010), EEM, AIT; Dr. Yuttachai Sarathai (EEM’ 2010), Pollution Control Department, Thailand; and Mr. Janjit Iamchaturapatr (WWE’ 2002), Faculty , KMUTNB also joined the deliberations.

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